Image: College fund stored in glass jar in kitchen © Vstock LLC, Tetra images, Getty Images

It's not just the nation heading for a fiscal cliff.

Soaring education costs could end up rupturing your nest egg -- and bring your child to the brink of bankruptcy before he even gets his first job.

Even the top 1% may get a panic attack from the latest projected tuition rates.

Campus Consultants Founder and President Kal Chany figured out what college will likely cost by 2030 based on inflation rates. He wrote the book, "Paying for College Without Going Broke."

The findings? In 18 years, the average sticker price for a private university could be as much as $130,428 a year (see chart below). The situation isn't much better if you go the public route. Sending your child to a state university could set you back at least $41,228 a year.

Seuk Kim, who works in public relations in the Washington, D.C., area and is in his 30s, knows what he's up against. He has three kids under the age of 3.

"I am very concerned. I make a decent living to provide for my family, but we are a one-income household," said Kim. "We will likely have to rely on some financial aid or hope they can qualify for a scholarship. I would hate for them to have to take out a huge loan in order to pay for their education like I did."

He calculates he'd have to save about $3,300 per month if he sends his children to the University of Virginia located near his home. It's a figure Kim says he can't afford.

Kim adds, "The kids are the greatest thing that's ever happened to me, but they are one of the worst things that happened to my retirement plan . . . . Now that I've experienced a double whammy of the bear market and having to split my savings up four ways, I'm not sure I'll ever be able to retire."

Projected tuition costs, Fall 2029-Spring 2030*

 
School type5% increases6% increases7% increases
4-year public (out of state)$71,373$84,651$100,239
4-year private (nonprofit)$92,869$110,146$130,428
4-year public in-state$41,228$48,898$57,609
Source: Campus Consultants Inc.; * Includes room and board

Chany believes there's a good chance that his calculations will become a reality.

There may be a saving grace. As fewer Americans can afford to pay the steep prices, universities will become more open to negotiating.

"The colleges may just discount more and increase the aid budget. It's funny money. They want to attract kids who can raise the academic profile of the school. You get them in by letting them pay below the academic full price," said Chany.

He's also watching what public universities charge out-of-state residents. They'll charge out-of-state students much more to keep the rates down for in-state students, according to Chany.

Greenberg Educational Group Director Eric Greenberg counsels families on the college application process. He finds college tuition has been increasing at double the rate of inflation. It's a situation putting many families in a financial Bermuda triangle.

"You would be amazed at the number of people who have such a small amount saved," said Greenberg.

That's a path Irina Borovsky, an information technology worker in the New York City area, isn't taking.

Borovsky, who has a 7-month-old son, puts away a few hundred dollars from every paycheck. Both Borovsky and her partner plan to contribute larger sums of money as the youngster gets older.

"It's important that my child goes to a good school. I do not believe, however, that going to a high-ranking private school is absolutely necessary, thus would most likely not take 'whatever is necessary' measures," said Borovsky. "However, this may change in the future."

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